Kyiv Security Forum

Steven Pifer: The West may turn away from Ukraine if Kiev is engaged in political games instead of reforms

15 April 2016, 19:12

“If you are engaged in political games instead of reforms, you may find yourself in a situation when the West will turn away from you,” – said Stephen Pifer, a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, summing up the 9th Kyiv Security Forum, organized by the Arseniy Yatsenyuk Open Ukraine Foundation.

He noted that many changes have taken place over the past 2.5 years in Ukraine: “You have to deal with Russian aggression, illegal annexation of the Crimea and Russian support of the armed separatists in the Donbas. Ukraine also has to deal with reforms to build economic and political institutions that can transform Ukraine into a normal, stable, democratic, market oriented European state”.

Steven Pifer acknowledged that the reforms of this period were successful, particularly in the energy sector. However, he estimated that these changes were insufficient and needed further implementation. “We hope that the new Government would work, it must do it quickly, otherwise there is a risk that Western patience runs out, as it is not unlimited,” – said the former diplomat.

He recalled that next January the new US president will take his office. “And the question is what kind of Ukraine the new American president would see 9 months later. If Ukraine is in a deep political crisis with no reforms conducted, the president will be tempted to say that the Europeans should deal with Ukraine on their own. This is not really good,” - said Steven Pifer.

“But on the other hand if the president sees Ukraine governed by an determined leadership that thoroughly carries out reforms and truly fights corruption, then the White House will be interested in helping Ukraine to become a real European country,” – he added .

Meanwhile Steven Pifer admitted that the hampering of reforms in Ukraine serves Russian purpose and its’ leadership deteriorates the situation in the Donbas to achieve it. “Russia wants to use the Donbas conflict as frozen or partially frozen to put pressure on the government in Kiev and to prevent this government from carrying out reforms or implementing the Association Agreement with the EU,” – said Steven Pifer.


The annual international event Kyiv Security Forum launched by Arseniy Yatsenyuk Foundation Open Ukraine in 2007 is a platform for debate on the most pressing security issues in Europe and the Black Sea Region.

Internet broadcast of the Forum:

9th Kyiv Security Forum (Ukrainian):